Ambitious plans for the redevelopment of Crawley town centre are confidently predicted to rob surrounding towns of 3% of their retail trade. Does that include Brighton & Hove?
A massive 10 hectare swathe of the northern part of Crawley town centre is included with plans for a John Lewis store of over 20,000 square metres and over 45,000 square metres of other retail. Between 2,500 and 2,900 additional car parking spaces will also be provided to service the development.
Developers Grosvenor and Liberty International are going head to head to vie for the £500m contract. British Land and other smaller developers have also expressed a strong interest and expressions of interest have to be lodged by the end of the month.
The John Lewis store will be a powerful addition to Crawley’s unremarkable retail offer and the department store has offered to work with the Council to provide advice on the details of the scheme. The new store will be nearly 5 times the size of the old Hanningtons department store and, together with abundant parking will draw people away from nearby towns like Haywards Heath and East Grinstead.
Crawley is only 30 minutes drive from Brighton & Hove and we will undoubtedly lose some market share once the scheme is complete in 2011 but Crawley's total retail sales only amount to £292m against Brighton's £892m so it has a long way to go before it gets into our league. However, because we lack major department stores in our own retail offer the threat of Jphn Lewis has to be taken seriously and this means that finding imaginative solutions to our access problems is even more pressing.
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